University announces new institute in Chicago

By Aila Rahman, Staff Writer

The University has announced plans to build a new center for innovative research, the Discovery Partners Institute, in the technological hub of Chicago.

The University aims to take advantage of Chicago’s new status as the next Silicon Valley. In 2015, Forbes reported that Chicago had a 19.3 percent growth in tech jobs, which have a 67 percent higher median salary as compared to other jobs.

The $1.2 billion institute will be funded primarily by private donors and business partnerships. It will be located on the 78, a 62-acre tract of residential, office, retail, recreational and cultural space in downtown Chicago.

The University is partnering with Northwestern, the University of Chicago and the Israeli government.

The faculty could bring in $500 million annually in funding for their research. The DPI will open with around 50 faculty members and could expand to 90 members when fully operational, according to an Office of University Relations press release.

Additionally, the DPI is the basis for establishing the Illinois Innovation Network, which aims to expand DPI’s influence across the state, according to the official website for the DPI. The Illinois Innovation Network will allow DPI staff and researchers to work with other universities and allow businesses to help launch new companies and lift communities.

According to the University press release the DPI will initially serve a couple hundred students enrolled at the University and its partnering universities, eventually expanding to 1,800 students at its full operation. These undergraduates and graduate students will have the opportunity to live in Chicago while working at the DPI or startup companies.

As a result of this, Chicago will benefit, as an estimated $300 million is to be used for private real estate developments to house students and faculty, according to the press release by the Office of University Relations.

Executive Director at the Office of University Relations Thomas Hardy said in an email that construction on the DPI has not begun yet. It is currently in its conceptual and fundraising stage.

Recently, Illinois Gov.Bruce Rauner, University President Tim Killeen and others visited Israel, which was chosen to be the key international component of the DPI.

They signed four memorandums of understanding with Israeli universities. These research partnerships, with focuses on data science, healthcare and agriculture, will include exchanging student body and faculty.

Israel’s Consul General Aviv Ezra set up much of the itinerary for the trip and facilitated discussions among Rauner, Killeen and Israeli officials.

“As Israelites, we are very excited to help Chicago build (the DPI),” said Moran Birman, consul for public diplomacy.

Birman also said they love Chicago and are excited for the addition of the DPI.

“It can be very beneficial to the city of Chicago as a future hub for technology,” he said. The DPI will connect top research faculty with students, businesses, entrepreneurs and venture firms as they work to solve real-world problems in agriculture, healthcare, computing and other critical fields.

Cybersecurity, new medicines and treatment methods and improving nutrition are a few of the problems the DPI will address.

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